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Is Your Soil Ready?

To determine whether your garden soil is ready for seeds, grab a good handful of it. If you can form it into a ball, the soil is too wet. If it crumbles through your fingers and reminds you of chocolate cake, it’s ready for planting!

For more tips and our soil temperature chart, click here.

One 80-year-old farmer said it very simply: “I just wait until I see the weeds starting to grow in my garden. Then I know it’s time to plant.”

Need to improve your soil? See tips on soil fixes and soil amendments.

Do you use manure? Manure creates nutrient-rich, moisture-retaining soil for your plants. To find out when to spread what, consult our Manure Guide.

See all of our free “Starting Your Garden” articles and reference guides here.

Ready to plant? Use our free 2010 Seed-Starting Guide—customized to your local frost date and including the best days to plant in the light and dark of the Moon.

Frame Gardening

Gardeners use frames to "harden off" seedlings that were started indoors or to start their vegetable plants from seed outdoors. See how to make a cold frame and a hot bed.


We like March, his shoes are purple
He is new and high;
Makes he mud for dog and peddler,
Makes he forest dry.

–Emily Dickinson (1830–86)

Getting Outdoors in Spring

Spring has arrived! The earth is awakening and getting busy. How are you getting outdoors, getting moving, getting active? See our ideas—and share your own!

Great Almanac Giveaway

Check out this month’s prize:

20 eco-friendly seed packets for you! AND, select 5 friends who will receive 10 packets each! Urban Farmer offers a large variety of vegetable, herb, and flower seeds for home gardens.


The Old Farmer's Almanac Easter Basket Collection

SAVE 48%! Total Retail Value: $67.84. You Pay Only: $34.95.

The Old Farmer's Almanac Easter Basket is loaded with exciting goodies—two wonderful books, a CD-ROM, and Easter sweets!

Best of all, the beautiful, handcrafted basket can be used throughout the year. Created exclusively for The Old Farmer's Almanac, this basket is made of 100% genuine white ash and carries a lifetime guarantee from the prestigious Peterboro Basket Company.

Long after the Easter grass is gone, children will also delight in the gifts inside the basket:

  • The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids, Volume 3, has 192 easy-to-read pages filled with fascinating topics and facts—lots of fun, educational entertainment. Kids can’t put it down!
  • H. A. Rey’s classic Find the Constellations is a must for any young person’s library and the perfect book to help all star-gazers to discover the night sky!
  • The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids Volume 1 CD-ROM is loaded with quirky facts, wacky stories, and fun activities. Contains the complete contents of the printed book.
  • Easter sweets include all-natural, locally produced honey sticks with 6 assorted flavors and a 14-ounce package of Starburst jelly beans.
See more details. Order by March 26 (Noon ET) to receive by Easter!

Mardon Me, Padam

Will posterity recall your accomplishments? Or, as in the case of Reverend William Archibald Spooner, will it remember you for an accidental slip of the tongue?

Spooner was a warden at Oxford University in England, from 1903 to 1924. One day, he was announcing the hymn “Conquering Kings Their Titles Take” but instead said, “Kinquering Kongs Their Titles Take”—and in one “swell foop,” the spoonerism was born.

Oxford students wasted no time before producing their own examples and attributing them to the warden. Luckily, Spooner had a sense of humor and even added more of his own misspoken expressions to the growing collection. Read oft-quoted spoonerisms!

No one is exempt from talking nonsense; the mistake is to do it solemnly.
—Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533–92), French essayist

We hope you found your FREE Almanac Companion Newsletter “new, useful, and entertaining”—just like The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
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